Thursday, May 3, 2012

Stalled VA Hospitals And Clinics Dot The Landscape

The Veterans Administration currently has four hospitals and 55 medical clinics under construction around the country since 1998. According to House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, all four hospital projects and 38 of the clinic projects are behind schedule, with a dozen of the clinic projects delayed more than three years. Total construction costs for the 59 buildings: $442 million.

“I am not assured the VA has the right team in place to oversee and manage these projects,” Miller says. “We have seen across VA contracting that there are deep rooted problems, and leadership allows these problems to persist. We hear over and over in testimony that no one is to blame, or held to account. Someone must be accountable for these problems. It appears we have a leadership vacuum which is an even larger problem.”

The delayed VA hospital projects are in Denver, Las Vegas, New Orleans and Orlando. Denver’s hospital construction was delayed over a year when VA changed the concept from a hospital to a clinic, then later back to a hospital. Typical construction delays set the Las Vegas hospital project back four months. In New Orleans, the hospital project was delayed two years because  the City of New Orleans failed to deliver “construction ready” land from  November 2009 until April 2011. In Orlando, the hospital project was set back and pushed over budget by medical equipment purchase decisions that required repeated changes in the designed sizes of rooms to house the equipment.

Chairman Miller says the agency needs to develop an improved construction procurement process. “Until VA applies private sector principles to mitigate cost increases and schedule delays, we’ll have these problems,” he concludes.

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